Contest Requirements & Guidelines

Learn about JEA's Journalist of the Year scholarship competition with program coordinator Joe Humphrey. In the video below, he will look at the process, the rubric, best practices for creating a student portfolio and more.

Please note two updates that have been made after production of this video:

  • Applicants are no longer required to have two years of scholastic journalism experience, though most will.
  • JEA has increased the number of finalists to four and the finalist scholarship amount to $1,000.


Students applying for JEA’s Journalist of the Year must complete the requirements and guidelines listed below as a part of their portfolio:

  • Deadlines: All entries on the state level should be submitted to the state director/designated official by the state deadline. After judging is complete at the state level, the state director/designated official can return the winning state entry to the student for minor revisions/corrections suggested by the judging panel.
  • All state winners’ applications for the national contest are due by 11:59 p.m. CDT, March 10.
  • Applicant’s adviser must be a current JEA member.
  • Applicant must be a senior in high school or equivalent for international schools.
  • To compete for a JEA scholarship, the portfolio must be a state JOY award winner. Students in states without a state director should submit their portfolios to the JEA director whose name will be listed under the state name. Applicants from outside the United States should submit their entries to JEA’s global engagement director. At the judges’ discretion, up to three international portfolios (with no more than one per country) may advance to the JEA competition.


State JOY winners will complete an online application that requires them to provide contact information, upload a transcript, upload three letters of recommendation, upload a resume and upload a personal narrative about their scholarship journalism experience. Students will also submit a link to an online portfolio of their work. Applications are strongly encouraged to review the updated JOY rubric and watch the Portfolio Polish videos.

1. Candidates should complete the online application. Before completing, read the following:

  • Be prepared to fill out the application at one time, as there is not an option to save one’s work and continue later.
  • Students should write their personal narrative and create their résumé somewhere else (i.e. Word Document, Google Doc), and be prepared to attach as a PDF to their application.
  • Scan or convert your transcript and letters of recommendation to PDFs to upload when prompted as part of the application process.
  • You will need a URL (Internet address) for your online portfolio showing your work examples.

2. Candidates should create an online portfolio for examples of their work, and organize it based on the categories outlined on the judging rubric:

  • Reporting and Writing
  • Editing, Leadership and Team Building
  • Design
  • Broadcast Journalism
  • Photojournalism
  • Web and Social Media
  • Law, Ethics and News Literacy
  • Marketing and Audience Engagement
  • Commitment to Diversity (Note: Work in this area can also be embedded in other categories in lieu of creating a dedicated category in the portfolio)

3. Each artifact within the portfolio should be accompanied by a clear, concise revealing reflection that outlines the following:

  • If published, the evidence of usage/publication of example should the candidate see it fit to include
  • If entered in any contest, how the work example placed if applicable
  • An explanation/reasoning for each example. The explanation/reasoning includes the applicant’s explanation about the specific assignment. Include any difficulties encountered with the assignment and special circumstances affecting it. Explanation should typically be less than 100 words in length), easy to read and should explain why this entry is important and was chosen for the portfolio.


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